Environmentalism is Humanitarianism
Three of our committee members had the privilege to witness an illustration of society as we were always meant to understand it: in a place unlike home exists an enlightened humanity - a community built on collective consciousness. Here, everyone was fed the food they grow themselves, from earth they tended in time they spent together. Without competition from El Niño and global warming, Malagasy people have long been able to exist healthily off their land in Madagascar, with rice and legume based diets, and well-fed animals to serve as supplemental protein. In addition to providing nutritious and diverse foods to its inhabitants, it is also one the most diverse biospheres in the entire world. More than 60% of Madagascar's species are endemic only to that region, and most every luxury aroma company in the world looks to Madagascar for the finest vanilla, vetiver, cinnamon, and ylang ylang. Devastatingly, according to WWF, more than 80% of Madagascar's unique animal populations rely on forested ecosystems, but, since the 1950's, deforestation has reached a crippling 90%.
Unfortunately, the reality of carbon emissions and their toll leaves our world's poorest to suffer at the behest of the West and all of our 'necessary' comforts. According to Harvard graduate and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, this disproportionate consumption leaves 1.3 million people in this region without proper nutrition. Children are surviving off of nutritionless cactus fruits and we're enjoying the spoils of their native land in our foods, our confections, and our beauty products.
According to International Energy Agency’s 2016 report, countries in the OECD and China, otherwise recognized as the world’s wealthiest, most influential nations, use 60% of the world’s resources and are responsible for more than 64% of total emissions. Instead of addressing our gravely concerning consumption behaviors, we instead maintain the status quo, falling further into climate debt.
This critical biosphere, home to people you'll meet and admire on this very blog, is in trouble. Malagasy people have to burn coal and rely on contaminated, disease-laden water sources, the rainforest is being clear-cut for foreign companies to ravage the land of its finite resources, and the governments in these areas are often too corrupt to provide viable solutions.
Challenge yourself and your peers to imagine the power of transformation in the combination of living within your ecological means and caring for your neighbor as if they were your kin. Access to clean, safe water means education, hygiene and health care can exist in place of arduous treks. Your generosity means daily commutes won’t ultimately communicate life-threatening diseases and young women can grow up to be change-makers. The people we take out of the water cycle can participate in lasting, large scale change.
When we can finally accept the responsibility of a world rife with man-made woes, we can assume blame and abandon the ego of complacency. All that’s required is the imagination of your impact.
Kristof, Nicholas. January 6, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/opinion/sunday/as-donald-trump-denies-climate-change-these-kids-die-of-it.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FMadagascar&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=1